Clashes continue between the government and demonstrators in Chad, with the population demanding respect for the Constitution and a true democracy.
The immediate risks to the stability of the Conseil Militaire de Transition (CMT) come not only from civil society, but also from the possible revival of the rebels and internal opposition to the army.
The knots must be resolved in a regional perspective, framing the condition of the rebels in the Libyan transition and considering the French and international presence.
The crisis, far from being only security-related, is therefore multidimensional, since endemic poverty and a human development index among the lowest at international level must be added to the security problems of the entire region.
Almost a month after Idriss Déby’s death, protests for democracy in Chad continue, with internal and international security risks that add to what is a possibly underestimated multidimensional crisis, but which, just as a peace process in Libya remains open.
Protests and clashes between police and demonstrators continue in N’Djamena, complaining about the hegemony of a very influential clan – that of Déby – and a situation of near-domination of a single party and the military confirmed by the personalities appointed in the Government of transition.
The population rejects what the opposition has called an “institutional coup” by Mahamat Déby Itno, son of Idriss, who died according to the official version at the hands of the rebels, but in mysterious circumstances, following yet another military mission personally guided (mostly to present himself as a warrior leader: last year he had already done the same against the jihadists near Lake Chad).
Hundreds of demonstrators
Since the end of April they were arrested and there are several deaths due to the repression, promptly condemned by the OHCHR, the United Nations Commission for Human Rights.
The death of Déby and the anti-constitutional urning point have therefore awakened civil society, which today fears the materialization of the specter of a military regime – despite the appointment of a civil Prime Minister, very close to the President’s entourage – and wants to take the opportunity to achieve a truly democratic change .
Immediate Safety Risks
The premise is that the situation is in a fragile balance. In addition to the protests by civil society, there are two security risks:
(a) a resumption of hostilities by the rebels and
(b) the disaffection of a part of the military towards the Conseil Militaire de Transition (CMT).
As for the first point, the rebels given up for defeat – for propaganda reasons – could reorganize and the clash could resume.
Regarding the second point, however, the risk is to see divisions in the Armed Forces, not only among the senior officers, but also among the lower-ranking elements, as not all are in favor of the personalities of the junta and the hegemony of some.
However, and despite these risks, there does not seem to be the prospect of a united front of these dissident voices (rebels, military and civil society) and the internal political opposition has rejected the possibility of taking up arms against the CMT, distancing itself from the rebels.
The Libyan Knot and International Relations
Speaking of the rebels, those of the Front pour l’ternance et la concorde au Tchad (FACT), who started action in Chad in the first half of April to depose Déby and obtain an alternation in power, have worked for a long time in the Darfur, until the peace agreement between Sudan and Chad in 2010, after which they moved to Libya, integrating into the chaos of the civil war and mainly playing the role of mercenaries with the support of the Wagner Group.
The FACT , the only group that decided for the armed incursion against Déby, was also close to Colonel Khalifa Haftar: In exchange for protecting airbases and infrastructure, the rebels secured equipment and goods, weapons and vehicles – many of them supplied by foreign donors.
The paradox is that Haftar, also supported by France, was in turn considered an ally of Déby.
In summary, France supported Déby and Haftar and the latter in turn supported, more or less indirectly, the armed rebels opposed to Déby.
The FACT operation followed the start of the recent Libyan transition process which has as its fundamental point the departure of all foreign forces, including those Chadian rebels.
Now, how can these forces be removed from Libya without an open peace process in their country?
Is it really possible to withdraw all the foreign mercenaries, who are quite numerous?
In the same way, there are many acronyms of Chadian rebels who, despite their significant size and common enemy, remain, fortunately for the Government of Chad, divided within them.
For France the dilemma remains open whether to support the CMT, de jure illegitimate – and so far tepidly “condemned” – thus maintaining a vital ally, but risking increasing the anti-French sentiment very widespread in the Sahel, or opposing it in the name of accountabilityand democracy.
At the Elysée, proving the effectiveness of the strategy in the Sahel remains an important question for the next presidential elections, which will likely see Macron head to head with Marine LePen in an already rather tense atmosphere.
As France assesses, the United States condemns and Turkey congratulates , Mahamat Déby Itno weaves the network of relationships to secure and secure support in the region, starting with Niger and Nigeria .
A Multidimensional Crisis
In addition to the problems listed above, there is also the jihadist insurrection, ready to exploit the institutional weakness: long seen as the only threat in the area, it has contributed to the short-sightedness of other fragilities due to limited anti-terrorism lenses against Islamists.
The fact remains that many actors, France above all, agree that Chad remains a sort of “Sparta of Africa”, a constant supply basin of well-trained troops to be mobilized in the war against jihadists and beyond, for the safety of their interests.
However, the Pandora’s box that has opened is bringing out regional dynamics that transcend the mere fight against Islamist extremism and rebels across the border.
Just remember that corruption, political exclusion, growing disparity and the repression of dissent have long been sidelined problems in Chad, which not surprisingly ranks 187 out of 189 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index.
Unless these issues are dealt with seriously, Chad’s instability will have wide regional repercussions, given its strategic position of connection with Central and West Africa, Sudan and the Maghreb.
The fate of Chad is already influencing several conflicts: in the Lake Chad basin, in Libya, in Darfur, in the Central African Republic and in the western Sahel.
Ultimately, the hope is that the various risk factors presented do not emerge to exacerbate the crisis, with the complicity of various powers (France, USA, Turkey, Russia and the Emirates above all), while the flame of hope is lit in the nearby Libya after ten years of civil war.
Daniele Molteni – An editor of La Beula, an independent cultural magazine in the Brianza area of Como. His areas of interest are Africa and the Middle East, with a particular focus on issues related to security and the rule of law.